HOW YOUR PERIOD CHANGES DURING YOUR 20s, 30s, AND 40s
PERIODS AND WHAT TO EXPECT
This post outlines some common changes women can experience with their periods, decade by decade, and how some changes can signal something more serious?
GET TO KNOW YOU PERIOD
While probably not your favourite monthly event, especially when unexpected changes occur, women should understand what is normal.
Menstruation changes like easing cramps, heavier flow, PMS mood swings, periods late one month and the next early, or a flow lasting four days, then for a full week, can be hard to predict and a major pain to deal with. Unfortunately, they are more common than not.
As you get older, your period will keep adjusting and evolving, thanks in part to normal age-related hormonal changes, as well as experiences such as pregnancy, and perimenopause.
YOUR PERIOD IN YOUR 20s
Due to irregular ovulation in your teen years, many girls experience period variations with no-shows followed by surprise appearances. Fortunately, as you reach your 20’s your flow normally becomes more consistent.
Your period arrives more or less monthly but many young women in their 20’s start experiencing the unpleasant symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), cramps, and breast tenderness.
During this decade many women decide to start taking hormonal contraception (the Pill), as they may have different partners, or are busy navigating their careers and are not ready to think about kids.
Going on the pill will likely trigger changes to your usual flow. Typically lighter and more regular periods, less cramping, and reduced PMS symptoms.
In fact, the pill (or another form of hormonal contraception, like the hormonal IUD) can even cause your periods to disappear. Birth control pills prevent ovulation, and without ovulation, there's no uterine lining buildup that has to be shed, this can result in no flow.
YOUR PERIOD IN YOUR 30s
For the most part, menstruation should be pretty predictable and consistent during this decade.
Symptoms such as a suddenly heavier flow or more intense pain than your usual cramps may be a sign of a bigger issue. Benign growths called fibroids, which can leave you with heavier bleeding, generally don't make a debut until you've reached the big 3-0.
Endometriosis, which is often marked by pain that might last all month is also frequently diagnosed when a woman is in their 30s.
Another major event that may arise in your 30s is childbirth.
You know that getting pregnant means your flow stops. But you may not have realised that your period doesn’t usually come back until six weeks after delivery if you’re not breastfeeding. If you decide to breastfeed, your period may not return until you stop or reduce the number of times you're nursing.
Also, delivering a baby may lead to long-term shifts to your cycle. After pregnancy, some women report less cramping, which can be caused by a larger cervical opening which may allow your period flow to occur without strong uterine contractions.
YOUR PERIOD IN YOUR 40s
Your 40s mark the beginning of more changes, including perimenopausal hormonal fluctuations, which are precursors to menopause.
During this time generally, the eight to 10 years before menopause (in your early 50s), your body prepares for the end of your monthly menstruation.
These hormone fluctuations cause ovulation to be more irregular, and your estrogen level change means you could start experiencing missed periods, a heavier flow, spotting between periods, and longer stretches of PMS.
During perimenopause your periods can be less predictable and even if ovulation is erratic, you can still get pregnant. A woman isn't in menopause until her periods have ceased for at least a year.
WHAT YOUR PERIOD CAN TELL YOU?
Highly irregular periods or drastic changes to your flow may be a sign of thyroid issues, fibroids, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or a number of other (treatable) health concerns.
Whatever your age, remember that your period offers a lot of insight into overall health. So if you experience any unusual symptoms, it's a good idea to check in with your doctor.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
As any of the above period symptoms could be a sign of a more serious health condition and further investigation may be required. We would advise that you see your general practitioner and possibly obtain a referral to see Dr Gailani.
Dr Gailani can offer specialised help, advice on a possible diagnosis, further investigations and suitable treatment. Contact his rooms at www.omargailani.com.au